Giles ponders life after cricket
Ashley Giles is facing a major dilemma over his future as he considers the long-term effects of the battle to resume his career.
The 34-year-old left-arm spinner had hoped to bounce back from a year on the sidelines with hip problems by starting the season with Warwickshire and forcing his way back into the England reckoning.
But another hip injury before the start of the season prompted a third operation, which ruled him out for the summer and renewed fears about his capacity to recover full fitness again without suffering lasting damage.
Giles, who battled back from a year out to play in the first two Tests of last winter's Ashes series in Australia, admitted: “It's more difficult than last time around because it's my third operation.
“Last year I had a light at the end of the tunnel to aim for, which was the Ashes, and I don't have that this time, so it's become a lot harder to battle on through.
“The underlying thing is that you never know how much long-term damage you are doing to yourself as well.
“I have never thought it is not worth it, but I have to start thinking about it. If in five years’ time they think this will do more damage then I will have to take that advice.
“I certainly don't want to look at hip replacements. It is a difficult time because cricket is what I do and cricket is what I have done for 20 years, but I do have to start thinking about the implications.
“It is great to keep going and saying to yourself, 'I will be fine', but the chances of recurrence are very high and I can't keep going through operations.”
Giles believes it will be at least another four weeks before he can attempt running again and two months after that before he will be fit enough to consider playing again.
After a year in which he was forced to return home early from Australia following a serious illness to his wife Stine, and then suffered an injury blow which necessitated another operation, Giles admits he has set no comeback date yet.
“An amazing amount has happened over the last few months and not much of it has anything to do with cricket - with Stine, coming back from the Ashes, getting injured again, and having another operation - so it's been a pretty rough 2006/7 and I am looking forward to getting into 2008 now,” he said.
"Getting injured again was a shock because it was not as though it was a recurrence of the same problem - it was a new injury in the same hip, so it was a real kick in the teeth.
“I think I was aware pretty much straight away that it was something quite serious because it did not go away and, once you get involved with surgeons, you usually end up being operated on.”
Giles, speaking at a Chance To Shine camp in Birmingham, designed to develop teenagers’ cricketing, leadership and teamwork skills, has at least rediscovered his love of the game after two years spent largely on the sidelines.
He added: “When you play at the highest level a lot, that love of the game is perhaps taken away from you because of the pressure on you and everything that goes with it, but to get back to Warwickshire has taught me how much I love the game and I still think I have something to offer.
“I've had some dark days. If cricket ended tomorrow for me, I'm not sure what I would do, but at the same time I would also be happy with my lot.
“I've loved every minute of it, even the bad times and tough times because I've learned something through all of them.
“Ultimately, I have played a lot of cricket for my country and cricket has given me everything I have hoped, and if I have to walk away from it soon I will have no regrets.”